A stretch that’s too much for Kedah’s Ifwat to shoulder

JDT’s Diogo Luis Santo (right) shot the ball while Kedah goalkeeper Mohd Ifwat Akmal Che Kassim try block the ball during Malaysia Cup final match at National Stadium Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

PETALING JAYA: Kedah custodian Ifwat Akmal Che Kassim’s superb spell between the posts in the Super League came a cropper against Felda United despite emerging 2-1 victors.

Ifwat had been on a roll keeping goal in Kedah’s 2-0 and 2-1 wins over Police and Petaling Jaya since the league resumed.

Then last Saturday, the 24-year-old went full stretch to push away a header from Felda’s Syahmi Zamri, crashed into the post and was stretchered out in the 44th minute.

Thankfully, he did not suffer any serious injury and only sprained his shoulder but it will definitely keep him out of the rescheduled match against Sabah on Monday (Sept 21) at the Cheras Football Stadium.

The match was switched from Saturday to the new date because of a surge in Covid-19 cases in Kedah. Both teams agreed to play in Cheras.

Although Ifwat will be sidelined, his immediate concern is getting back to full fitness.

“I am recovering, but I still feel some pain. I am not strong enough to perform. When I fell, I couldn’t feel both my arms, but after two days, I could carry them up slowly,” said the Malaysian international.

“Even to wear my shirt is tough. I am just glad that I did not fracture but just sprained my shoulder. I need to rest.

“The doctor told me that it would not a take long for me to regain full fitness but I should skip the Sabah match,” added Ifwat.

Experienced Shahril Saari, 30, who had been a first-choice goalkeeper for his previous clubs like Sarawak, Police and PKNS and also played in the AFC Champions Leag-ue qualifiers for Kedah, would be the obvious replacement for Ifwat.

The ponytailed Shahril is known for his shot-stopping and distribution, and should be able to handle the job if fielded.

There’s also 21-year-old Azri Abdul Ghani, a regular for the national Under-23 team, to call upon if the need arises.

Kedah are riding high after notching up their fourth win on the trot beginning with the pre-Covid-19 shutdown match on March 15 when they beat Selangor 2-0. The next day the Movement Control Order was imposed until the restart of the league on Aug 22.

The four wins have left Kedah in second spot in the standings with 13 points, six behind league leaders Johor Darul Ta’zim.

With four more matches before the season ends next month, Kedah are hoping to continue their gallant run and give leaders JDT a run for their money.

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